City of Calgary reducing water use due to drought conditions; we can all be water wise this summer

The City of Calgary is formally moving our drought monitoring dial from Normal to Dry conditions, due to drier weather and higher temperatures. This decision is based on our ongoing monitoring of precipitation levels, reservoirs and lake levels, stream flow rates in rivers, and water demand, among others.  

Under the Dry conditions, The City is taking the following actions to reduce water use:drought conditions

  • Reduce watering flowers, turfs in parks (where possible), and sports fields
  • Reduce use of outdoor decorative fountains
  • Limit exterior washing of City vehicles and buses
  • Reduce outdoor watering at City-owned and operated buildings

Under the dry conditions, water restrictions are still voluntary for Calgarians. There are currently no mandatory water restrictions in place.

“Despite the moments of intense rain fall through July, our monitoring team continues to see impacts of this year’s dry conditions across Calgary and the region,” says Water Resources Planner, Sarah Marshall. “Right now, Calgary’s reservoir water levels are within normal range and we want to keep them there. By working together to conserve water use in Calgary today, the better the chance it won’t impact how we and the region would use water later in the season.”

Water use in communities can increase up to 50 per cent in the summer because of outdoor watering. Every summer, when Calgary is at its driest, we promote ways Calgarians can help conserve water by limiting their outdoor water use. It’s how we can all reduce the strain on Calgary’s rivers and water treatment plants.

  • Reduce the number of times a week you water your lawn and consider watering in the early morning - before 7 a.m. or later in the evening.  
  • Water plants more efficiently with a soaker hose, drip irrigation or by hand to avoid losing water to evaporation.  
  • Avoid washing your sidewalks, driveways, siding, outdoor furniture.  
  • Leave the grass two to three inches high and add mulch to garden beds to reduce evaporation.
  • Capture rainwater in a rain barrel and use it for the garden.

“We’re all impacted by drought conditions, and we can all choose to support our rivers and water supply,” says Marshall. “If we all take some small steps in reducing our outdoor water use, it will not only benefit our community, but also our neighbours downstream in southern Alberta.”

Everyone is encouraged to visit for ideas on how to be water-efficient in homes and yards.

Current conditions  

  • There are no mandatory water restrictions currently in effect. As always, Calgarians are encouraged to conserve water during dry conditions.
  • The flows in both the Bow and Elbow Rivers are well below normal for this time of year due to the low snowpacks and early snowmelt in the Bow and Elbow River Basins.
  • The Glenmore Reservoir is being held at full supply level, while reservoirs upstream remain low.
  • Water demand in Calgary is currently within seasonal average range. With above average temperatures and dry conditions in the long-term forecast, demand is anticipated to trend above average. 
  • Water Treatment operations continue to meet customer demand, delivering safe, high-quality drinking water.

The current condition is focused on water quantity, not water quality.

Moving forward, The City is stepping up efforts to monitor drought conditions (watershed, operational and regional conditions) to further manage our available water supply at the Glenmore Reservoir and other City-owned infrastructure. We will continue to work with our regional partners, Alberta Environment and Protected Areas, TransAlta and the Downstream Irrigation Districts to manage water supply and demand along the Bow River.

If drought conditions persist, The City may implement mandatory outdoor water restrictions, although timing of such restrictions and whether they will be necessary are still being considered.  

To stay informed on current drought conditions, visit